USAR: Lonesome Pine: Northern Division race report

O'Quinn Jr. Wins Food City 250 Coeburn, Va.--Danny O'Quinn Jr. was late for the prom at Coeburn High School (Va.) on Saturday night, but he did get to celebrate a homecoming. O'Quinn Jr. picked up his first win in the Hooters ProCup Series...

O'Quinn Jr. Wins Food City 250

Coeburn, Va.--Danny O'Quinn Jr. was late for the prom at Coeburn High School (Va.) on Saturday night, but he did get to celebrate a homecoming.

O'Quinn Jr. picked up his first win in the Hooters ProCup Series at his home track, Lonesome Pine Raceway, beating Jason McLellan to the finish line by 1.09 seconds in the Food City 250 presented by WDIC 92.1 FM.

"It's indescribable what I'm feeling right now," said O'Quinn, a former Late Model Stock champion at LPR. "To win one of these races means a lot to me. But for everybody to get to be here and celebrate it with us, it's just awesome. Now, I've got to hurry up, get out of here and get to my girlfriend's prom."

O'Quinn, who was moonlighting from the Southern Division, looked like he was in a hurry in the last 50 laps of the race.

Running third with 48 laps left, O'Quinn, driver of the No. 02 Homesteader Trailers Chevy, started to pressure Brian Ross for the second spot. O'Quinn ran third behind Johnny Rumley, driver of the No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford, and Ross for the next 13 laps until Ross and Rumley made contact coming off Turn 4. O'Quinn never lifted and went from third to first entering Turn 1. Once in front, O'Quinn checked out on the field over the final 25 laps.

"I really didn't think we had the car that could win today," said O'Quinn. "With about 50 to go, our car came around and everybody else just faded away."

Cars weren't the only things fading at LPR.

With its paper-clip shape, LPR began to take a toll on the brakes of many of the frontrunners.

"The last 50 laps our brakes were going. And the last 20 laps, I had zero," said Rumley, who a race-high 89 laps. "I guess I used up the brakes when I was racing Jeff [Agnew]."

Rumley and Agnew, who also have won track championships at LPR, staged a side-by-side battle for the lead from Lap 180 to Lap 186. The lead duo swapped positions--and paint--three times during the six laps. Agnew led Lap 186, but the two tangled in Turn 1, sending Agnew spinning and to 13th for the restart.

"It's fun to race with Jeff," said Rumley. "I race him as hard as I race anybody, and he does me the same way. That deal down in Turn 1 was unfortunate, but I'll have to wait until I see the tape to see what happened."

Agnew, who led 33 laps, wasn't the only leader to suffer misfortune in the Food City 250.

Benny Gordon, who won $1,000 for being the Advance Auto Parts Pole Award winner, led the first 17 laps before his car lost power under caution and had to be pushed back to pit road. Gordon, driver of the No. 66 Predator Performance Ford, returned to the field on Lap 32, but he battled electrical problems all night and finished last.

Danny Sammons, who led 33 laps, assumed the lead after Gordon fell out, but his time out front would be brief as Agnew, driver of the No. 73 NGA/Hooters Tour Chevy, took the lead on Lap 21. Agnew led until he received at black flag for jumping the restart. Sammons, driver of the No. 97 Ford, took over the top spot and paced the field until coming to pit road for service on Lap 78. Sammons' exhaust started to bottom out in the corners and eventually fell off. The New Jersey driver battled back to the top five, but Eric Corbett, driver of the No. 75 Larry & Sons Ford, turned Sammons in Turn 2 on Lap 175. Sammons finished 12th.

Mardy Lindley, driver of the No. 16 Hooters Air Ford, took over the top spot after Sammons pitted on Lap 78 and led for 16 laps until smoke began to billow from his car after an oil line blew off. Lindley was forced to pit and lost seven laps. Rumley moved back in front as Lindley pitted and led until Lap 118, when he, too, pitted for service.

Joel Kauffman, who pitted with Sammons on Lap 78, took over the lead after Rumley pitted.

With 50 laps on his tires, Kauffman, driver of the No. 44 Chevy, was no match for Rumley and lost the lead on Lap 155. However, Kauffman held on to finish eighth.

"We pitted early to fix a right-front shock," said Kauffman. "I took it easy on the car and tried to stay on the lead lap. The caution came out, and it put us in the lead. We led a few laps and tried to hold those guys off, but the shock problem hurt us."

After Agnew and Rumley tangled for the lead, Ross joined the fray for the top spot late in the going. Ross moved up the track and began to look to the outside of Rumley. Ross was able to pull alongside Rumley on two occasions, but he never was able to lead the race.

"I got in to Johnny a little bit there, and that jacked us both up," said Ross, driver of the No. 42 US Insurance Group Ford. "I wasn't going to pass him after I got him sideways, so I let him gather it back up. That might have cost me getting the lead. But to come home third after the problems at South Boston, we're pretty happy about the night."

Ross eventually did make his way around Rumley, but only after O'Quinn and McLellan had bypassed both of them.

Once McLellan, driver of the No. 3 Chevy, moved into second, the Canadian driver was nearly two seconds behind O'Quinn. McLellan was able to cut the lead down to a second late in the race, but that would be as close as he could get.

"After the mechanical problem biting us at South Boston, finishing second tonight is great," said McLellan. "Billy Hess has been such a big help to us. I'm learning, the team is learning and we're going to go to IRP and give it a whirl."

Even without brakes, Rumley held on to finish fourth and the overall point lead. Gary St. Amant, driver of the No. 11 Jegs Mail Order Chevy, finished fifth and won $1,000 for being the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race.

Food City 250 Notebook

Benny and BFGoodrich Tires

Benny Gordon blistered the track in qualifying, breaking the previous track record by nearly .200 seconds. However, Gordon wasn't the only driver to go low in qualifying. The top-six qualifiers bested the old qualifying record set by Mardy Lindley in 2002. This is the fourth time in six races that track records have been set since the Hooters ProCup Series switched to the Traction T/A Radial tire provided by BFGoodrich Tires.

Gleaming Gault

Glenn Gault had a skip in his step at LPR. The Ohio driver was well up the speed charts all day, qualified seventh and finished seventh.

"I think the team is jelling this year," said Gault. "We've been working on setups and trying to get better. I'm glad that we had a good qualifying effort and a good finish tonight."

Retracted Reaction

Gary St. Amant's first impression of Lonesome Pine Raceway didn't bring a smile to the Ohio drivers face, but his final one did.

"When the race started, I couldn't wait to leave Lonesome Pine Raceway because I couldn't get a handle on this place," said St. Amant, who finished fifth. "But after 250 laps, I'm ready to go another 250 laps. I found a high line in [turns] three and four. In the last half of the race, we were one of the better cars."

DJ's Day

D.J. Kennington, driver of the No. 77 S.M. Freight Inc. Ford, had another impressive run in the Hooters ProCup Series at LPR. Despite never seeing the race track before practice, Kennington qualified 12th and finished ninth. It was his second top-10 finish in a row in his rookie campaign. However, he left wanting more.

"I don't know what happened," said a dejected Kennington. "Our biggest problem was the brakes. I lost the brakes in the last 100 laps, and I was pumping them all the way down the straightaway to get them to work, but we're learning."

Career Best for Fullone

Sam Fullone, driver of the No. 48 Pero Vegetables Chevy, narrowly missed the first top-10 finish of his career at LPR. The rookie driver qualified 15th and finished 11th. Fullone's finish moved him into fourth in the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year standings.

-usar-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers D.J. Kennington , Brian Ross , Joel Kauffman , Danny O'Quinn , Johnny R